Visiting Versailles


It is 11 pm here in Paris and I am wrapping up an exhausting day of visiting beautiful Versailles. Last night I watched a movie about Marie Antoinette, starring Kirsten Dunst, and I got a first glimpse of what court and royal culture was like back in the prime of Versailles and Marie Antoinette’s reign. The movie shot in 2009, was actually filmed in Versailles, unlike many movies that are unable to film on locations as historic as the palace is. It offers a snapshot of what Marie Antoinette life was like after marrying Louis the XVI in 1770. I highly recommend the movie for anyone interested in it.

This morning I woke up at 6:30 for Paris’ finest croissants. Now I’m not kidding when I say that. Every year local judges taste the best croissants in the area and the bakery across from the Cite won the competition this year. They were divine! We took the train to Versailles and arrived promptly at 8:50, 10 minutes before opening. We were some of the first people into the palace yard, but the crowds were not far behind us.

Once inside I was completely stunned. Every square inch is covered in the most beautiful marble, art, linens, drapery, and furniture. Every room you walked into was adorned in gold molding with creamy white doors while large windows let in the warm morning sunlight. My favorite room in the palace was Marie Antoinette’s bedroom. It was covered in a soft pink floral print and everything just looked so perfect. I was very excited to see the portrait of Marie Antoinette and her children, a propaganda piece the Queen had made to seem motherly to the French citizens who were not fond of her. We made our way through various rooms of wall side paintings ranging from the Battle of York to the Coronation of Napoleon.

Outside, we wandered around the gardens of the palace and sat for lunch amidst large pink roses and tall green trees. We shared laughs over a large plate of burrata while we ate gnocchi, pork, and pastas for lunch. We sat for a long time enjoying the beautiful atmosphere and the made our way to a little train that would take us to Marie Antoinette’s Hamlet. As Queen, she designed the Hamlet to replicate the local village so that her and her friends could play poor. It felt like Disney walking outside the small buildings, but what was amazing was how well kept the gardens were. Vegetables, fruits, and flowers are still grown throughout the Hamlet’s gardens. It was all so surreal, I was constantly reminding myself of where I was.

The whole day was amazing. I enjoyed every minute, even when my legs felt like they were going to give our. Okay maybe not so much that part, but I still enjoyed every minute.  It was all a dream. Pictures to come!



Photos from Week 1


Week 1 has been an absolute dream here in Paris! I can’t wait to share all the details about some of my favorite spots thus far, but I have decided to upload a gallery of my favorite photos of each week to give you a better idea of what I have been up to! I hope you enjoy 🙂


Luka fresh off the plane from NYC.
Happy camper Shea!

We sat at this cafe for a few hours before heading to our welcome dinner at La Boussole.
First visit to the Luxembourg Palace and Gardens.

Molly, Shea, and I.
What remains of Philippe August’s great wall.
Visiting famous artists homes.
Holy Crepe!
Stain glass in the upper chapel at Sainte-Chapelle.
Notre-Dame shinning after it’s tragic fire.
Dinner outside of Sainte-Chapelle.

Chartres Cathedral.

Squad Selfie.
Chartres is currently under renovations. The time, energy, and labor has made the gothic architecture look amazing. On the right is what those who have visited before have seen, the left shows the renovations. So cool seeing both!
Stain glass above the relic of Mary’s veil.
In the gardens behind the Cathedral.
The incredible view!
The National Archives of Paris.

*walks aimlessly*
Feeling good!

Phone eats first.
Jess enjoying the last licks of her ice cream.
The Square of Louis XIII.
Strike a pose!

The tunnels through the Catacombs. Very tight, short, and dark.
There are two million remains in the Catacombs today…
Stumbled upon a HUGE carnival on our walk home to the Cite.
Conor and Luka with their French flag prize.

Sunday afternoon lunch.
Me at the end of week 1… verrrryyy happpyyy!

Just a Taste


Et bienvenue a Paris! That might not even be french but I’ve only been here for four days so you can all give me a hard time at the end of the trip if my french is still bad. But hello, and welcome to Paris!

I arrived in France in nearly one piece. The flight was horrendous to say the least… happy that it is over, though looks like I may never return to New York if I have to go through that again. I landed in Charles de-Gaulle airport at 7:35 Saturday morning and found the three Holy Cross students that were also on my flight. We wandered around the airport for the next four hours meeting up with other friends in the program and testing out our  very limited french while buying lunch. The train to the Cite Internationale Universitaire de Paris (our dorms) was quick and easy. Shea, Molly, Luka, and I wandered around our neighborhood to a cafe and sat for a few hours waiting for Jess, Gabby, and Thuy to meet us for dinner. As dinner ended we got stuck in a torrential downpour and walked the 15 minutes home sopping wet. I personally found this amazing, the others not so much.

The Cite Internationale Universitaire de Paris

My first steps into central Paris were breathtaking. We came out of the metro station to the light of Notre-Dame, shining amidst its tragic fire only a short month ago. I could not withhold my excitement upon finally seeing the Cathedral I have been eagerly waiting to admire. Sunday consisted of a scavenger hunt around the Ile de la Cite, a boat tour of the Seine River, a long stop at a nearby cafe, and a group dinner. The day was absolutely amazing. I felt like I had to keep pinching myself to believe that it was all real, that I was actually in Paris, France.

A first look at Notre Dame

Monday began the start of both language and culture class. I am really enjoying the beginners french class. We learned the alphabet and how to spell our names out loud on Monday. When the professor asked me to spell mine aloud, while he wrote down what he heard on the board, I was dubbed, “LEEUCY”. I can not pronounce the letter “U” to save my life. For the next five minutes I proceeded to pronounce the letter “U” with such force I could not help myself from laughing. After class professor Schilt began training me on how to properly pronounce the letter. Unfortunately, I literally can’t do it, so I will now be known as Lecy.

Shockingly, I’ve become rather comfortable using the public transportation here in Paris. As a directionally challenged person, the metro system here is very easy to use and understand. Our Navigopasses allow us access to the metro and RER tram rails as many times as we like. What is very interesting about Parisian culture is that there are no conductors or staff checking passes on trains, on a regular basis. Despite this, everyone continues to scan their passes when they get on the RERs. I found this very interesting because as a metro north user, if the conductor doesn’t come to my train car I don’t activate my ticket or seek a conductor out to punch the ticket. Professor Schilt explained to us that while there are no conductors on trains, police officers routinely check passes when riders exit the trains to ensure that they are valid. If they are not, a 50 euro fine is issued and must be paid on the spot. I’ve noticed many other differences between life in Paris and life in America that I will explain in another post, but this is just one difference I have become very intrigued by.

I promise to post more on what I have been seeing, this is only a first taste!



Leaving Home


Today is my last day in the states! Its crazy how quickly the week has flown by. I am extremely nervous to embark on this journey, but I know that it will be so good for me.

I have spent the last few days with friends and family while preparing to leave. I think that the quick turnaround has been very good for me, because any more time at home and I don’t think I would be able to get myself onto the plane. I am an extremely anxious flyer and have never been on a flight over an ocean, or a plane as large as the ones that fly internationally. I am nervous and anxious to say the least, but I need to push myself to do this if I am ever going to see all of the things and places I dream about visiting.

Me with my maternal grandparents in Bronxville.


Friends from high school.

Keeping myself distracted, I focused on packing myself into one suitcase and one personal item. I used the Away Medium size suitcase and was able to fit everything I wanted to bring (and some). I definitely self identify as an over-packer, however this may be one of the few trips I feel that I packed the appropriate amount.

I went off a navy, black, and white color scheme with few pops of color through pattern. Focusing on specific color groups made packing a lot easier and eliminated a lot of the things in my closet I otherwise may have brought. It also ensured that I would be able to create different outfits from everything I brought without feeling like I was always wearing the same thing. Using individualized bags also limited the amount I brought and kept the bag very organized. Checking the weather beforehand was also essential in determining what type of clothing I would need. I packed pants, shorts, t-shirts, two cardigans, three dresses, one nice outfit, and accessories to mix and match. (There is 100% more in my bag, but these were the basics).

For anyone feeling nervous about packing for a Maymester I would tell you not to fret! I was nervous about making everything fit, but limiting myself has made travel thus far much easier and I know my arms will thank me when I’m lugging the suitcase up and down the subway stairs.

See you in Paris!


Finding a Maymester

Hi Everyone!

My name is Lucy Rizzo and I recently finished my first year at Holy Cross this past Monday. The year has completely flown by and I am sad to think about how quickly is it all going. Luckily for me, I get to extend my freshman year by four weeks on the upcoming Maymester to Paris.  

My friends and I in Boston during the last few weeks of classes.

While it may come as a surprise, going on this Maymester was not initially in my (or my parents) plans. In my “Intro to Academic Writing Class” first semester, a classmate projected an image of the Paris Maymester information session poster during one of our classes. The assignment was to describe and analyze everything we saw. I saw Monet’s Japanese water bridge painting, (my all time favorite artist), the Chartres Cathedral stained glass rose window, and an image of the Louvre museum. After listing all of these off to my classmates and Professor, a friend looked at me and said “Lucy you should probably go to this meeting.” One information session later, I called my parents and told them the plan. They both laughed it off, and when I arrived home for winter break with an acceptance in hand, they both looked at me stunned, thinking I was joking when I initially told them. Five months later and I’m less than a week out!

The information session poster that first sparked my interest in the program.

I am both excited and nervous for many different reasons. Having never spoken French, or even sat in on a single class, my only experience with the language is through Duolingo. The frustrating part about this is that I have only learned how to say cat, dog, horse, and croissant. I am also nervous about getting lost around the city and not being able to communicate with others to find my way around. I’ve heard the horror stories of Parisians yelling in American’s faces for not speaking French to them, so I’m google translating “Do you speak English?” in french, as I write this now. I’m sure the french class I will be taking will at the University will calm my anxiety around this, but for now I will continue my Duolingo practice on how to correctly pronounce “dog”.

Despite my language insecurities, I am so excited to discover a new city. I have studied French art and history for the last three years and took a modern french course my first semester at Holy Cross. It was amazing! I can’t wait to see the paintings, sculptures, monuments, and buildings I have seen through textbook pictures in person for the first time.

I am so excited to take you on this incredible journey with me on my first adventure abroad!

More to come tomorrow!